/More than half of Americans disapprove of President Trumps handling of race, survey says

More than half of Americans disapprove of President Trumps handling of race, survey says

President Donald Trump during this week’s presidential debate set off a firestorm of controversy after saying “stand by” when asked if he would denounce white supremacist groups, like the Proud Boys. But even before the debate, the majority of Americans already disapproved of the president’s handling of race relations, according to a new survey. 

According to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project, 56% of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of race – a six-percentage point increase from February,

When broken down by race and ethnicity, Black (72%), Latino (68%), and Asian and Pacific Islander (68%) Americans are much more likely than white Americans (48%) to disapprove of the president’s handling of race, though white Americans disapproval is up 5 percentage points since February.

The survey, which was conducted before the presidential debate on Tuesday, comes amid nationwide protests calling for police reform and for the nation as a whole to address systemic racism. The protests began after George Floyd, a Black Minnesota man was killed in police custody. Most recently, protesters have been calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black Kentucky woman who was shot and killed by police serving a warrant at her apartment. 

Violence and looting has also occurred at some of the protests, which have remained mostly peaceful. 

At the presidential debate on Tuesday, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacist and militia groups. The president responded by asking which groups, to which Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said “Proud Boys,” a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal advocacy organization, has designated as a hate group.

“Proud Boys – stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.” The president received bipartisan backlash for his comments, and later said that he didn’t know about the group but said “they have to stand down. Let law enforcement do their work.”

The Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project is a large-scale study of the American electorate designed to conduct 500,000 interviews about policies and the presidential candidates during the 2020 election cycle. The most recent poll was done Sept. 17 to Sept. 23, with 6,252 Americans surveyed. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. 

Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, said the changes in Trump’s handling of race has changed since February and can now be attributed to the protests and “ongoing concerns the American public has with this issue.” He added that it’s an issue that has become a top priority for Americans.

“As it’s become more central, people kind of clarified their opinion about it … and the handling of it,” Griffin said.

There also is a correlation between Americans’ disapproval of Trump’s handling of race relations and how they perceive discrimination to Black Americans, according to the Nationscape Insights analysis, a project of Democracy Fund, UCLA and USA TODAY.

Among those who believe Black Americans face “a great deal” of discrimination, 77% of those respondents disapprove of Trump’s handling of race relations. But among survey respondents who said Black Americans face only “a moderate amount” of discrimination, fewer (37%) disapprove of Trump’s handling of race relations.